O Que Sera, Bollani and De Holande. Many of these tunes are like a neck-and-neck sprint, with each player throwing himself forward toward the finishing line.

Label: ECM
Time: 10 Tracks / 54 minutes

When these two start with some polite jazz on "Beatriz" it is a disingenuous tease. The two are about to launch into a series of frenetically-paced pieces that many would avoid even attempting live.

They continue with a tune each that is self-composed. Italian pianist Bollani's "Il Barbone Di Seviglia" reveals either distinct influences of Keith Emerson in its angular style and speed, or a shared source. De Holanda gets his work "Caprichos de Espana" just right, with a tasty melody and a warm Mediterranean vibe.

That Latin mood comes largely from the Brazilian connection. De Holanda, who plays a Bandolim, a ten-stringed mandolin, comes from Brazil and several of these pieces are from his homeland. Bollani has previously recorded works by the nation's composers and plainly feels comfortable with the South American spirit.

Seeing just two players on the cover of this disc made me wonder, when I first saw it, whether the music would become stale and predictable after a couple of tunes. Not at all. Aided by some scat singing, some instrument-slapping and a healthy dose of humour, the pair injects enough variations in tempo, mood and melody to often sound as full as a trio.

The musicianship is almost beyond question. To not only perform, but also improvise, at this pace in front of an audience takes as much courage as skill. That ability has seen Bollani duet with the likes of Chick Corea. Similarly, De Holanda, who was playing mandolin on television by the age of six, has performed alongside Béla Fleck. But this live set feeds off the relationship with an audience that is completely wowed by the pair's virtuosity and, for most part, the tunes are like a neck-and neck sprint, with each player throwing himself forward toward the finishing line.

Given the titles, it seems that girls bring out the alternate side of the set-list, which features more lyrical tunes, such as "Rosa" and the calm, piano-based "Luiza."

Half of the concert plays to the audience's need for entertainment, while the rest is more suited to those who listen on disc. But by the time they get to the "Apanhei – Te Cavaquinho" the two sides coalesce, the fingers of both players surely smoking, but without the performance losing the tune's melodious heart. No surprise that the audience loves them.

Derek Walker

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